July 29/14

Bible Quotation for today/Honor your father and your mother
Proverbs 23:22: "Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old".

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources published on July 29/14

How Islamic are Muslims/By: Daniel Pipes/July 29/14
Israel is killing the peace process with Hamas’ help/By: Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya/July 29/14

Iran knows better than to jeopardize the nuke talks/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/July 29/14
Learning the Lessons of the Past/By: Fayez Sara/Asharq Al Awsat/ July 29/14

Kerry’s Political Dilemma/By: Samir Atallah/Asharq Al Awsat/July 29/14


Lebanese Related News published on July 29/14

Geagea Downplays Nasrallah-Jumblat Meeting

Salam to Call for Cabinet Session Next Week

Lebanese politicians still split over Presidency
Lebanon's Arabic press digest – July 28, 2014

N. Lebanon rallies in support of Sunni prisoners
Qabbani calls for jihad to liberate Palestine

Jumblat Denies Making Presidential Deadlock Request to Nasrallah


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 29/14

Death Toll from Boko Haram Cameroon Raids Rises to 15

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr
Assad makes rare public appearance for Eid

Mashaal: Hamas is ready to coexist with Jews, but not the occupation

Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

Israeli strikes on Gaza and rocket fire break lull

Cease-fire is not enough

Israeli army confirms it fired into U.N. Gaza refuge

Saudi King: Don’t misuse Islam for terrorism

Iraqi tribes take aim at ISIS in northern Iraq

Iranian lawmakers consider plans to boost oversight of nuclear talks
UN rights chief: Flight 17 possible war crime

All quiet on the Egyptian political front

A different Arab-Israeli war: will it have a different ending?

China says it may have citizens fighting in Iraq

Huge Libyan oil blaze puts Tripoli under threat

Geagea Downplays Nasrallah-Jumblat Meeting

Naharnet/Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea played down a recent meeting held between Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat.
The meeting has no political meaning, Geagea told An Nahar newspaper published on Monday. to show the positive aspects of the ongoing ties between them, he said. The two parties announced on Sunday that Nasrallah discussed with Jumblat the need to elect a president as soon as possible and to boost coordination among security agencies. Geagea denied in his remarks to An Nahar that there were developments in the presidential deadlock. He accused the March 8 alliance of not showing signs on its readiness to discuss the candidacy of any person other than Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun. Unlike the LF chief, Aoun has not officially announced his candidacy, saying he would do so only if there was consensus on him. But the March 14 alliance, which has given its support to Geagea, has refused to back Aoun. The dispute between the two camps left the presidential palace vacant after Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25. Aoun “is still holding onto his stance,” Geagea said, accusing him of paralyzing the election of a president for not accepting anyone else to reach Baabda Palace. The March 14 alliance is not ready to discuss “plan B” not because it refuses to do so but because the March 8 camp has rejected to change its stance, Geagea said.Several March 14 officials, including the LF leader, had repeatedly said that they would discuss the possibility of backing the candidacy of a March 14 figure other than Geagea if March 8 expressed readiness not to boycott the elections.


Jumblat Denies Making Presidential Deadlock Request to Nasrallah
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat has denied that he asked Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to end his support for Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun's candidacy. In remarks published in As Safir daily on Monday, Jumblat said he did not make such a request during his recent meeting with Nasrallah. “I haven't asked anything in that regard,” the PSP chief said. Aoun has not announced his candidacy for the presidency, and his March 8 allies, including Hizbullah, have not named a candidate. But the majority of the camp's lawmakers have boycotted parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a head of state. Hizbullah and the PSP announced on Sunday that Nasrallah has discussed with Jumblat the need to elect a president as soon as possible and boost coordination among security agencies. The press release did not mention the time or place of the meeting. Jumblat told As Safir that he wanted to meet Nasrallah to discuss with him about the situation in the Gaza Strip. “We reached a conclusion that both Hamas and Gaza would emerge victorious” against Israel, he said.

Salam to Call for Cabinet Session Next Week
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam has said that he would call for a cabinet session next week to agree on the rest of the items on its agenda. “The most important articles have been approved by consensus, including the Lebanese University decree and the allocation of funds to pay public sector salaries,” said Salam in remarks published on Monday. The cabinet unanimously approved last Thursday the appointment of LU deans and making contract-based professors full-timers. It also agreed to allocate funds to pay salaries for public sector employees. Asked by As Safir daily about the priorities of the government in the next stage, the PM reiterated that the election of a president is the most important event that should be held to end the country's problems and regulate the work of constitutional institutions. Another priority is to hold the parliamentary elections on time, Salam said. “There are a lot of other issues that we should resolve, including the Syrian refugees,” he added. Baabda Palace has been vacant since the term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May. Parliament failed to elect a successor in several rounds as a result of the dispute between the March 8 and 14 alliances on a consensus candidate.

U.S. Ups Pressure on Israel as U.N. Demands Gaza Truce

Naharnet/The U.N. Security Council Monday joined U.S. President Barack Obama in calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, after Israel and Hamas ignored calls for a truce despite mounting civilian casualties. The Security Council resolution came during a lull in fighting in Gaza early Monday, the beginning of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival, after a day of strikes and counter-strikes.A military spokeswoman told Agence France Presse that since midnight no Gaza rockets had hit Israel, and the Jewish state had carried out no strikes in the Palestinian enclave. The 15-member Council released a statement urging a truce during Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. It expressed "strong support" for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.” It also voiced "grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties.”At least 1,032 Palestinians have died in the fighting as well as 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians. Obama, too, voiced concern at the civilian toll, in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in which he urged an immediate ceasefire.
- Obama: Immediately end hostilities -
According to a White House statement, the U.S. president "made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement" brokered by Egypt. He also stressed the need to "ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza," while reiterating "serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives." The two sides had observed a 12-hour humanitarian pause on Saturday, giving Gaza medics a chance to pull bodies from rubble they had not been able to reach under fire. But Hamas rocket fire prompted Israel to abandon an extension of that truce Sunday, and subsequent Hamas calls for another ceasefire were ignored by both sides. During Sunday, fighting renewed apace, as Israel pounded Gaza with aerial, naval and artillery bombardments and Hamas rained more rockets down on Israeli territory.A controversial incident on Thursday when a U.N. school acting as a shelter was shelled, killing 15 people, drew fierce condemnation from Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.
The Israeli army confirmed on Sunday it had hit the school, but said it was a "single errant mortar" round, denying that people were killed "as a result of (army) operational activity.”
Meanwhile Obama's Secretary of State John Kerry was still working for Israel and Hamas to agree to further halts in the bloodshed ahead of hoped for Egypt-led peace talks, a U.S. official said.
Israel rejected a Kerry-proposed ceasefire last week and Hamas has resisted truce efforts by Cairo after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and banned the Muslim Brotherhood, a Hamas ally.
- Crippling blockade -
Israel insists that it will continue its mission to destroy Hamas tunnels used to launch attacks on the Jewish state, and Hamas wants a lifting of the crippling Gaza blockade that has been in place for eight years.
A military spokeswoman told AFP that since the July 8 start of its military operation, over 2,000 rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza hit Israel, with another 492 intercepted.
Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said his group could not coexist with Israel as long as it occupied Palestinian land. "We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews," he said in remarks broadcast Sunday. "We fight the occupiers." "I'm ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs," he said. "However, I do not coexist with the occupiers."
Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, expressed disappointment with Monday's Security Council statement, saying it fell short of a formal resolution demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip. "They should have adopted a resolution a long time ago to condemn this aggression and to call for this aggression to be stopped immediately," said Mansour following the emergency meeting. "We are disappointed in that sense," he said, Rights groups say the vast majority, some 80 percent of Palestinians killed, have been civilians.
Source/Agence France Presse


Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani calls for jihad to liberate Palestine
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani used his Eid al-Fitr sermon to call for "jihad" to liberate “Palestine’s sacred land from Jewish foreign occupation.”
Jihad “is the duty of each and every one of you no matter how much sacrifices are made,” he said, while deploring Arab weakness and apathy in confronting the ongoing Israeli offensive on Gaza.
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 6,000 injured in three weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Some 43 Israeli soldiers also died in the violence.
Speaking at the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut, the mufti urged Lebanese politicians to put their rivalries aside and focus on electing a president and holding parliamentary election for the sake of salvaging Lebanon. “Electing a new president and holding general elections after agreeing on a new electoral law that represents not only the majority will enable the state to recover its role in the service of the people and the nation,” Qabbani said in his Eid al-Fitr sermon in Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut. “Lebanese (politicians) should hurry in order to salvage their nation before the boat sinks with all of us." The Sunni mufti lashed out at Lebanese politicians, whom he accused of indulging “in arrogance and individualism, while the people are reeling under poverty.”
Parliament has failed so far to elect a president to succeeded former head of state Michel Sleiman, whose mandate expired on May 25. Nine attempts since April have proved to be futile due to persisting divisions between rival parties over a consensus candidate for the state’s top post. General elections that were due in May 2013 could not be held due to disagreements on a new electoral law, which is expected to be more representative of minority groups. The poll was postponed for more than a year until November 2014, consequently entailing the extension of the existing chamber’s mandate. The fate of November's polls are still up in the air, as no progress has been made on passing a new election law. Commenting on the persecution of Christians in Iraq, Qabbani said “it is not Islamic rule.”
He cautioned that attacks targeting Christians in Mosul would backfire on Arabs and Muslims and were “a prelude to the destruction, division and disintegration of the Arab nation.”
North Lebanon’s Mufti Malek Shaar echoed Qabbani’s concern over attacks targeting Christians in the Levant in his own Eid al-Fitr sermon, and deplored the persisting Israeli offensive in which more than 1000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. “I appeal to world’s conscience to stop the eviction of our Christian brothers in Mosul, the displacement happening in Syria and the massacres taking place in Gaza,” Shaar said after bishops in the north congratulated him on Eid al-Fitr. “We Muslims, will not rest until our Christian brothers, notably in the Levant, are able to live in peace, security and tranquility.”


Death Toll from Boko Haram Cameroon Raids Rises to 15
Naharnet/At least 15 people were killed in two attacks blamed on Boko Haram in northern Cameroon, with the wife of the country's deputy prime minister among a dozen people reportedly kidnapped, a security source said Monday. The death toll from the two reportedly simultaneous raids on Sunday by Nigerian Islamic extremists on the palace of the Sultan Kolofata, and the nearby home of one of the country's most senior politicians, deputy premier Amadou Ali, rose on Monday from six to at least 15. The sultan, Seiny Boukar Lamine, his wife and their five children are among the hostages, a government spokesman confirmed. Two gendarmes and a member of the Cameroonian army's elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) were among the dead, a gendarme involved in the follow-up operation against the terrorists told AFP. "We listed around 15 dead, including two gendarmes and a soldier from the BIR," he said. "About a dozen people were kidnapped."Around 200 militants were involved in the raids, Cameroon's minister of communications, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, told local TV on Sunday. The attacks come after Cameroon stepped up its fight against Boko Haram in the wake of the international outcry over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls on April 14. "It's a big blow, the country is in a state of shock," a journalist on national television said. He claimed that some of the victims had been "burned alive". Boko Haram has long considered the northern Kolofata region, close to the Nigerian border, as a haven for its activities, and as a route for smuggling weapons. Asked about the fate of the hostages, the gendarmerie source said there were reasons to be optimistic and "that maybe we will have a happy ending rather quickly, but at this moment that is not the case." The dramatic raids follow the deaths of several Cameroonian soldiers and gendarmes killed in two attacks blamed on the militants on Thursday and Friday. Source/Agence France Presse

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Monday, 28 July 2014
Muslims around the world on Monday celebrated Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that Eid al-Fitr would begin on July 28, after the crescent moon was spotted, signaling the start of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
To signify the beginning of Eid and in compliance with the Sunnah, or practices of the Prophet Mohammad, many Muslims wake up early in the morning and pray Salat ul-Fajr, or the dawn prayer.
Muslims celebrate by coming together with friends and family, preparing sweets, wearing new clothes, giving each other gifts and putting up lights and other decorations in their homes. A usual greeting during this celebration is Eid Mubarak, which means, “Have a blessed Eid.”
But holiday celebrations are likely to be mired by a deadly conflict between the Israeli army and Palestinian group Hamas, which over the past two weeks has resulted in the death of more than 1,050 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly Palestinian civilians.
Also events in Iraq, where militants belonging to Sunni jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are likely to put a downer on celebrations. In recent months, the jihadists have claimed swathes of Iraqi cities and are battling with Iraqi security forces.
This year, most of the Arab, European, American and Canadian Muslims celebrated the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr on the same dates as Saudi Arabia.
Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates have also said Eid al-Fitr would begin Monday.
The Iraqi and Palestinian grand muftis have also made similar announcements.

Opinion: Kerry’s Political Dilemma
By: Samir Atallah/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 27 Jul, 2014
There can be no doubts about the intentions of US Secretary of State John Kerry. From his actions as head of the US State Department, it is clear that he is a well-intentioned man. Based on these good intentions, he is always roaming the world, scarcely spending anytime with his family. This is the thought that crossed my mind when I saw him a few weeks ago in New York.
However, as far back as my journalistic memory goes, I cannot recall a US Secretary of State with such a long history of failure and missed opportunities. To date, he has failed to make good on any of his promises or achieve any of his projects. The problem with Kerry is that he is overly optimistic, in contrast to the diplomatic reservation and political realism often demonstrated by other politicians.
Every issue that Kerry has promised to address remains ongoing: from mediation efforts in Palestine, Syria, Ukraine and Lebanon to a host of other issues across the globe.
So, what can we attribute Kerry’s weak performance to?
Simply put, Secretary of State John Kerry is representing a weak US administration. This weakness follows him, wherever he goes. He arrives in Geneva to represent a capital with no political capital. He visits Baghdad to represent an administration that lacks decision-making. He shuttles between Tel Aviv and Cairo as a mediator with no real clout.
Kerry cannot prove his zeal as long as he represents a president who never stops going back on his words. Barack Obama’s weak foreign policy is weighing on the deteriorating situation across the world. Europe is becoming increasingly embroiled in conflicts, going the way of the Middle East. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not heed the calls from Washington—Tel Aviv’s greatest ally—to halt the Gaza conflict, continuing to set the Gaza Strip ablaze. In addition to this, Washington’s position on Egypt has changed over the course of the past three years in a funny, or sorry, manner, demonstrating America’s confused vision and weak foreign policy.
Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton was able to cover for the flimsy US administration she represented with the glitter and glamor of the First Family. But Kerry is marred by the confusion of the US administration and the absence of the president. Obama did not even bother to issue a statement regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forcing Mosul’s Christians to flee. Obama’s increasingly isolationist policy is damaging Kerry’s credibility, as he continues to seek to solve these crises but is ultimately unable to do anything. This may irrevocably damage Kerry’s future political career.
As I said, Kerry is a well-intentioned man, but we need more than good intentions.

Learning the Lessons of the Past
Written by : Fayez Sara /Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 28 Jul, 2014
The General Secretariat of the Syrian National Coalition decided to dismiss the interim government of the Syrian opposition led by Ahmad Tu’mah by a two-thirds majority in its last meeting. It also tasked the former government to act as a caretaker administration until a new cabinet is formed. The government decided to open the door for nominations for the posts of prime minister and various ministers according to the internal regulations of the Syrian National Coalition.
The decision of the General Secretariat followed the presentation by Tu’mah’s government of its activities in the 10 months since its formation, and following discussions between members of the secretariat and members of the government. The discussions revolved around plans and policies, and what had been achieved, and a discussion of the problems which the government faced, and the efforts made to overcome them.
Despite the discussions converging on the weakness of the government and its failures, they disagreed on the timing of the dismissal, and disagreed on the ways to deal with the situation. In particular, some parties called for the dismissal to be postponed, in the hope that the situation might improve.
The discussions in both cases reflected the political differences within the Coalition. They were characterized by a level of seriousness and responsibility regarding the importance of the government meeting the needs of the Syrian people amid the catastrophe towards which the Assad regime has led them during the last few years. However, the government failed to fulfill its responsibilities, which led to its eventual dismissal. The failure is the result of issues related to the government itself, and others linked to the internal and external environment within which the government operated.
The course of the General Secretariat’s meeting leads us to a number of conclusions, one of the most important of which is the necessity of quickly forming a new government, due to the Syrian people’s need for the presence of an executive body which meets their needs, whether in terms of services or in terms of development projects.
The second conclusion related to the necessity of forming a government which was more suited to its tasks in terms of being able to identify needs and draw plans and implement them, with objective monitoring and evaluation of such plans.
This leads us to the third conclusion, which is the need for government members to be technocrats and experts in their fields, rather than politicians, despite the difficulty in differentiating between the two in the case of a Coalition government in the current circumstances. It is also difficult to reconcile these two goals and the need for the government to be representative of all constituents of Syrian society.
Perhaps the most important conclusion is that the next government must be aware of, and ensure, its being a Coalition government and not one parallel or alternative to it. It should work in cooperation and coordination with the Coalition when necessary, and could act as adviser and associate in other issues which concern the Coalition, as well as most of the opposition.
For the next government to be able to do that requires the Coalition to take steps to help it through a number of procedures. First, it should help form a strong and cohesive government able to carry out its duties and implement policies which meet the needs of the Syrian people—which requires more scrutiny than before in the selection of the prime minister and members of the government. It should also ensure it uses the expertise of some of the ministers from the government that was just dismissed.
The second procedure is to implement and ratify a draft system governing the relationship between the Coalition and the government, something which has been delayed for too long.
The third step needed is the provision of all political and financial support for the government, which was weak in the past despite the relative improvement in the Coalition’s external relations.
The essential features of a new relationship between the Coalition and the government must be defined in the near future, drawing on the lessons learned in the past, building on the positives, and confronting and eliminating the negatives. If this does not take place, history will repeat itself with the same results as before, even if some of the details change.

Iran knows better than to jeopardize the nuke talks

Monday, 28 July 2014
By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, holds one of the heaviest duties in the Islamic Republic – the leading of negotiations over its nuclear program.
In the past year, since he become foreign minister, the difficulties of the talks have given him a lot of troubles - he has even suffered physical ailments evidently caused by the high tension between him and the hardliners in parliament.
In spite of the consequences and the numerous stones in his path of reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal, Zarif tolerates every obstacle with one goal in mind: lifting the sanctions and proving that Iran is a peaceful nation.
Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) extended the talks at their conclusion on July 19 for another four months to continue working on the gaps between them in hopes of reaching a conclusive deal.
Strong position
While the United States is just one of the players in the talks, it clearly has the strongest position and the most major role on the P5+1’s side of the table.
In Iran, the current government understands that the time to move forward in the country’s future is now
Making any destructive act void and maintaining rational behavior is only a part of the talks. Iranian and U.S. diplomats not only engaged at the discussions in Vienna, but were also busy back home keeping their hardliners at bay in order to keep a positive and constructive atmosphere.
While all parties have agreed to meet in the first week of September, perhaps at the U.N. headquarters in New York City for the next ministerial level of the nuclear talks, in Iran, four journalists - three of them U.S. citizens - were arrested last Tuesday.
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post Correspondent in Iran and his wife Yeghaneh Salehi who was working with the UAE newspaper The National - along with another photojournalist and her husband - were all arrested in Tehran.
Awaiting details
Gholamhossein Esmaili, the director general of Tehran province’s justice department, confirmed on July 25 that the Washington Post correspondent was being held, according to IRNA, Iran’s official news agency.
Speaking to reporters at a public event, Esmaili said that the journalist “has been detained for some questions and after technical investigations, the judiciary will provide details on the issue.”
He added that Iranian security forces are “vigilant towards all kind of enemy activities,” according to IRNA.
The director general of Tehran province hasn’t provided details about the arrest, but knowing three of the detainees are dual citizens could be seen as a rise of new tensions between Iran and the United States, at a time when both countries aim to improve their relations.
The arrest of Rezaian is the first case of an American journalist being detained in Iran since 2009, and surprised many observers in both the U.S. and Iran.
Supreme interference
An Iranian diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity told me that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may intervene for the group’s release if he comes to believe that the arrest was a campaign to damage the nuclear talks and pressure President Hassan Rowhani and Zarif.
“Ayatollah Khamenei supports the talks but there still are hardliners in the judiciary and other institutions which are against them, and may they act to embarrass the negotiator’s team. If this is the case the supreme leader would fix it,” the diplomat said.
Rezaian was arrested shortly after returning from his last trip to Vienna to cover Iran’s nuclear talks with the P5+1.
The two other Americans detained on Tuesday are a female freelance photojournalist and her husband.
The Washington Post reported that a relative of the photojournalist said the family is working through contacts in Iran to secure their release. He said relatives have asked that their names not be made public.
In Iran, the current government understands that the time to move forward in the country’s future is now and won’t let anything jeopardize the talks.
The nuclear negotiations are an historic opportunity for Iran to demonstrate the true changes they are claiming, and the arrest of the U.S. citizen journalists couldn’t play a destructive role even if some wish for that. The complex and difficult task of resolving a crisis that has lasted more than a decade between the two countries cannot happen overnight - a fact that has been acknowledged by both sides.

Israel is killing the peace process with Hamas’ help
Monday, 28 July 2014
By: Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya
Beyond a ceasefire in Gaza, Israel is killing the internationally-backed two-state solution with help from Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hamas has always avoided making an unequivocal commitment to the two-state solution, and has been keen to engage in one-upmanship against the Palestinian Authority, which is dedicated to achieving two states.
The United States has made such a solution the cornerstone of its policy and diplomacy, not just under President Obama, but also with the successive administrations before him. The U.N. Security Council's two-state solution was pushed by the administration of George W. Bush in 2002. Then the Arab initiative for peace with and recognition of Israel was also based primarily on the two-state solution. The so-called Quarter, which consists of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and the United States, was established to implement the two-state solution.
So, as international consensus is on the verge of collapse, what are the available options, and are they being considered by the Quarter or the Palestinian Arab leaders, or is everyone burying their heads in the sand? What if the policy in place is to pretend the two-state solution is still viable while everyone knows it is not?
The events in Gaza have created new realities that serve Israel’s position against the two-state solution.
More than anything, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wants his rigorous efforts and shuttling between Israelis and Palestinians to bring about a radical solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the basis of the two-state solution. Kerry reached an impasse in the last period prior to the events in Gaza, and reduced his involvement in the effort to push the peace process forward after sensing the intransigence of the Israeli side in particular. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has offered the maximum possible concessions, and had to save face by forming a national reconciliation government with Hamas that is more symbolic than authentic, and John Kerry knows this very well.
Kerry has resumed his efforts in the Palestinian-Israeli question not only for the sake of de-escalation and a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but also in the hope of reviving the peace process and to attempt to save it from total collapse.
The events in Gaza have created new realities that serve Israel’s position against the two-state solution. The narrative now focuses on “offensive tunnels,” as the Israeli army calls them, to justify its aerial, naval and ground offensive. The current rhetoric is about ceasefire conditions, including lifting the blockade on Gaza. No one is talking about the two-state solution or how to revive the peace process and negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
A fait accompli has been produced by Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian Authority is trying to catch its breath as it tries to make sense of the events in Gaza. Israeli and Palestinian moderates are on the retreat. The showdown between the forces of Israeli extremism and Palestinian extremism reigns supreme. The casualty figures include more than 1,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and more than 40 Israelis, some of them civilians.
The Israeli public has retreated into supporting the actions of its government and encouraging it to do more, despite international protests against the methods and outcome of Israeli military operations in Gaza.
The rift between the Israeli and international public opinions has frightening implications for what the Israelis really want when it comes to the Palestinians. The international public opinion did not support Hamas' rocket launching but condemned it. It did not praise the tunnels, but denounced them. It did not sympathize with the use of UNRWA schools to stash rockets, but decried this. But the international public opinion did not endorse Israel's murder of Palestinian civilians who live in the places that the Israeli military machine decides to destroy.
American comedian Jon Stewart summed it up succinctly: Where do civilians that Israel orders to evacuate hours before striking in a besieged, populated and cordoned-off Gaza, go? In another sketch, he showed how it's impossible to even mention Israel without its apologists pouncing on all those who dare criticize it, and how defenders of Palestine pounce on anyone who dares criticize Hamas for allegedly using human shields.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. Bloomberg criticized the decision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban U.S. airlines from flying to Israel after rockets fired by Hamas landed near the airport in Tel Aviv. The extent of Bloomberg's hostility to Blitzer was astonishing. He objected to every obvious question, and accused the anchor of inciting Americans against Israel.
This is just one example of the American backlash against anyone who criticizes Israel, and how any dialogue or discussion about Israel is contentious in the United States. Despite this, according to polls, automatic support for Israel among the American public has dropped, especially among younger Americans, with many protesting against the Israeli justifications for the killing of Palestinian civilians.
This will not translate into a radical shift in U.S. public opinion in favor of Palestine at the expense of Israel. It is a temporary outcry. The organic American-Israeli relationship is here to stay, and in the coming days, the Israeli war machine will be able to shift the blame to the Palestinian side. Hamas will be the primary recipient of this blame because it, in the eyes of U.S. officials, is a terrorist group. However, the ultimate casualty will be the weak Palestinian Authority, and with it the peace process and the two-state solution, which requires ending the Israeli occupation. The term “occupation” will be removed from the American lexicon, as Israel is planning.
Hamas’ achievements
What has Hamas achieved in the near and long term for Palestine? It may boast of having forced international airlines to suspend flights to Israel as a result of rocket-fire. It may hunker down and reject ceasefire initiatives. It may chortle at having forced Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to try to meet some of its ceasefire demands. Hamas may boast of having become the representative of the Palestinian people at the expense of the PA, and may find that events in Gaza have helped its domestic and regional positions. Hamas may also believe that the international public opinion is sympathizing with the Palestinians thanks to its rockets and their role in reviving the Palestinian question in the world's conscience.
While Hamas may think it has won a battle, the main war is supposed to be to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state - these are now up in the air.
However, all this is precarious, and its cost may well be the death of thousands of Palestinian civilians and the displacement of thousands more. The focus will turn to dismantling Hamas’ military capabilities, including demolishing tunnels and preventing it from restocking its rocket arsenal. While Hamas may think it has won a battle, the main war is supposed to be to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state - these are now up in the air.
Hamas is well aware it is required to be the face of extremism and terrorism so that the Israeli right can justify its alternative to the two-state solution, namely, the demographic solution that requires the forcible deportation of Palestinians from Israel, rendering Israel an exclusive Jewish state free of Palestinians. In other words, through its rockets and cavalier attitude, Hamas has given Israel the impetus to implement the demographic solution as an alternative to the two-state solution.
No one dares recognize the demise of the two-state solution.
In his press conference last Friday, Benjamin Netanyahu said explicitly that he now ruled out completely giving Palestinians the kind of sovereignty required by the two-state solution. The Times of Israel reported in detail on what Netanyahu said in Hebrew. I believe his speech revealed how the Israeli prime minister pretended for nine months that he was engaged in earnest in the talks brokered by John Kerry, while deep down he was always planning to thwart the two-state solution and moving ahead with the settlement project. Netanyahu said, "I think the Israeli people understand now what I have always been saying," which is that there is no way for any treaty to lead to Israel ceding military control of the territory west of the Jordan River.
This means that Israel will not give up its security grip in a manner that would allow the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the territories that are supposed to make it up. This is precisely what Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, and in this he has the support of the Israeli establishment and the Israeli people as recent indications suggest.
What is behind Israel's clear rejection of the establishment of the Palestinian state dictated by the two-state solution? And is there anyone who dares recognize the demise of the two-state solution, internationally, regionally, and at the Arab and Palestinian levels? The short answer is no. Everyone is hiding, pretending that there is a little glimmer of hope.
Three options
The first challenge is for the Palestinians themselves. They have the option of the political process, even if they are convinced that the peace process is only a temporary sedative, and that it has become an empty process without purpose or real prospects for success. But those who cling to the political solution say that there is no real military solution that would be in the interests of the Palestinians, and that any military solution would be at their expense. Therefore, the "process" remains a safety valve that prevents the Palestinians from being crushed militarily and denies the Israelis the ability to implement their demographic solution, at least until further notice.
The other option is the military solution, which many Palestinians see as a suicidal solution, bearing in mind that the war would be exclusively fought by the Palestinian side and will not be fought by Arab states, Iran, or any of the parties that claim to be wedded to the Palestinian cause.
The third option is a war of attrition, something that Hamas seems intent to engage in through intermittent battles punctuated by sporadic negotiations and temporary deals to prevent the spread of terrorism by the likes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into Gaza, which would then be able to attack Israel.
Israel does not care about international reactions if it decides to implement the demographic solution that would create a pure Jewish state free of Palestinians, and impose Jordan as an alternative homeland for the latter. What Israel has always said about Jordan as an alternative homeland, as a radical solution, often falls into a spiral of denial by others. Today, from the Gaza Strip, elements of the original Israeli plan are being revived.
The least people can do is to stop burying their heads in the sand. Israel now explicitly speaks its mind and reveals its true intentions. It is time to acknowledge this reality, and for Arab and international parties to begin making contingency plans and long-term strategies after they mourn the two-state solution.

How Islamic are Muslims?
By: Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
July 28, 2014
EI2 stands for Economic IslamicityIndex; LGI2 for Legal and Governance IslamicityIndex; HPI2 for Human and Political Rights IslamicityIndex; and IRI2 for International Relations IslamicityIndex. Together, they make up the IslamicityIndex (I2).
Islamic law demands much of Muslims; how successfully do they fulfill its precepts?
Scheherazade S. Rehman and Hossein Askari of Georgetown University provide an answer in a 2010 article, "How Islamic are Islamic Countries?" In it, they establish the Islamic teachings and then calculate how well these are applied in 208 countries and territories. They posit four separate indices (economics, the law and governance, human and political rights, international relations); then they combine these into a single overall index, which they call the IslamicityIndex.
Perhaps surprisingly, the ten countries that top the list of Islamicity turn out to be, starting at the top, New Zealand, Luxemburg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands. The bottom ten are Mayotte, the West Bank and Gaza, Somalia, the Isle of Man, Eritrea, Sudan, the Channel Islands, Iraq, the Comoros, and Angola. Put differently, none of the top ten "Islamic" countries has a Muslim-majority, but in seven of the bottom ten, one-half or more of the population is Muslim.
Malaysia, a barely Muslim-majority country has the highest ranking in their list, coming in at #38 from the top. Kuwait, a fabulously rich oil exporter, has the highest ranking for a thoroughly Muslim-majority country, at #48. Jordan has the highest ranking for a thoroughly Muslim-majority country without oil wealth, at #77.
Welcome to New Zealand, the surprise country that best applies Islamic teachings.
Taking the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a sample (and ignoring population sizes, so that the Maldives with 300,000 has the same weight as Indonesia with 237 million), their aggregate score is #139, or distinctly below the halfway mark of #104 (i.e., midway through the 208 countries surveyed). In other words, according to this study, the world as a whole willy-nilly abides by Islamic precepts better than do Muslim-majority countries.
The real aggregate Muslim number is probably well below #139, in part for technical and statistical reasons, in part because the survey was published in 2010, before the Turkish prime minister went rogue and before the Arab upheavals began: Turkey ranks a relatively high #103, Mali #130, and Syria #186; their current scores would certainly be much farther down the Islamicity scale. Combining these factors, I estimate the real aggregate score for Muslims today to be #175.
The IslamicityIndex helpfully quantifies my two-part theory (as presented in books published more than 30 years ago on slave soldiers and Islam in public life) about Islam and politics: (1) Islam's demands are inherently too difficult for Muslim rulers to achieve, alienating Muslim populations from their governments, leading to a wide gulf between rulers and ruled, and to greedy autocrats who disdain their subjects' interests. (2) Compounding this problem, since about 1800 Muslims have realized that they lag behind non-Muslims in nearly every sphere of human activity, causing such symptoms as despair, irrationality, conspiracism, and Islamism.
Despite the Wahhabi ideology and control of Mecca, Saudi Arabia applies Islamic teachings less than do most countries.
Asked about my thesis, Mr. Askari disagrees. In a letter to me, he blames "opportunistic religious leaders" who "have distorted Islamic teachings and have hijacked the religion for their own personal gains." Their greed has enabled "oppressive and corrupt rulers to thwart the development of effective institutions," he argues. Finally, colonial and imperial powers have "exploited these conditions for their own gains." In other words, he sees an evil triad of religious, political, and Western forces creating a vicious circle that blocks progress.
My answer: When presented with the failure of a seemingly noble ideal (Communism, Islamic law), adherents instinctively blame human failure rather than ideals; we must try harder, do better. At a certain point, however, when the goal is never realized, it becomes logical and necessary to blame those ideals themselves. Fourteen centuries of failure should be a sufficiently thorough experiment.
Take the specific case of Saudi Arabia: If application of the Wahhabi doctrine for 2½ centuries, a stable government and control of Mecca and Medina for nearly a century, and unearned riches beyond the dreams of avarice still leave the country ranking a miserable #131, how can any society hope to attain Islamic ideals?
Askari blames Muslims; I blame Islam. This difference has enormous implications. If Muslims are the culprit, believers have no choice but to continue trying to fulfill Islamic teachings, as they have tried for more than a thousand years. If Islam is the problem, the solution lies in reconsidering the traditional interpretations of the faith and reinterpreting it in ways conducive to successful living. That effort might begin with an exploratory trip to New Zealand.